Anyone traveling in a motor vehicle is compelled to accept a certain degree of risk. Even when an individual keeps their vehicle in ideal condition and abides by all traffic laws, they simply never know when they might encounter someone else who does not make safety their top priority in traffic.
Crashes occur all across Mississippi for reasons ranging from someone swerving to avoid an animal in the road to someone texting while driving. While the risk of a motor vehicle wreck may be present everywhere there are roads, it is noticeably higher in Mississippi than elsewhere in the United States. Researchers, at least in part, place the blame on the roads for Mississippi having the highest number of traffic deaths in the country.
What has collision research uncovered?
There are many ways to calculate risk on the road, but looking at the number of deadly crashes compared with the reported local population may be one of the most effective. When looking at the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 people, Mississippi ranked the highest in the nation. Crash records showed 25 deaths in traffic annually per 100,000 residents, at least in 2020. There were 687 deadly crashes in 2020, and those collisions result in 752 deaths.
The reason behind that very high number of deaths per 100,000 residents likely connects to the number of rural highways crossing Mississippi. The speed limit on such highways is high enough to make collisions very likely fatal for those on bicycles or out jogging. Additionally, the lax overall enforcement of traffic statutes on rural roads may lead to drivers engaging in riskier behavior.
What does this mean for Mississippi motorists?
It likely isn’t realistic to simply avoid all rural highways when driving in Mississippi. However, motorists who are aware of their risk could potentially make smarter choices. Recognizing that drunk drivers are more likely to take rural routes to avoid enforcement efforts, for example, could help someone choose a better path home late at night. Drivers can also choose to carefully abide by traffic rules on rural roads despite the lack of enforcement.
Those who recognize when and where their risk for a crash is higher can make smarter choices about how they behave on Mississippi roads.